WILTON, CONN. – Wilton’s Mary Beth Greer, a member of Westport-based Saugatuck Rowing Club, already has one medal from the USRowing Youth National Championships. This weekend in Tennessee, she will try for another.
Greer, a junior, will row in Saugatuck’s Women’s 8 at the national championship regatta in Oak Ridge. Last year, she teamed with Connor Cashel of Fairfield to take second by three seconds in the Women’s Lightweight Double. Greer raced in Saugatuck’s Women’s Lightweight 8 that finished third at regionals, which also qualified for nationals, but she will focus on the Women’s 8 at nationals.
Saugatuck’s Women’s 8 has been undefeated this season, including a narrow victory over Norwalk-based Connecticut Boat Club in the Grand Final at regionals.
“Rowing in the eight is a completely different experience in comparison to the double,’’ Greer said. “The first difference is the type of rowing, it is sweeping (one oar) and not sculling (two oars). Prior to this season I may have raced an eight four times and one of them I was coxing.
"This spring has been a lot of fun, because the eight is much more of a team boat. In our double, Connor and I were very close, but it was just the two of us. In the eight you have the cox screaming and seven others pulling their hardest, it is an exhilarating experience. You know that every stroke you are taking is for the team.”
Greer started rowing with Saugatuck when she was in seventh-grade. She switched for Sono Rowing in Norwalk for a short time before returning to the team at Saugatuck, where many of her past teammates from when she started her career continued to row.
“I think we’re all really close, which helps us connect on the water,’’ she said. “When I came back, there was immediate acceptance into the group including an acceptance of the friends we brought over who had never rowed at Saugatuck before. As a team we bond over everything, even the little things like throwing a girl in the water. We all are there helping throw her in.”
Greer’s teammates in the eight have a wealth of experience. They include Louisa Freeman and Anna Petterson of Westport, Cashel and Lily Powers of Fairfield, Felicity Cain of Darien, Emily Patton of Guilford, Jo Gurman of Weston and Christina Johnson of Redding. Gurman and Freeman also won medals at last year’s national championships in the Women’s open weight double. Chase Graham coaches Saugatuck.
“I think this year we switched from small boats into the eight because we knew we could make a push for it,’’ Greer said. “We knew that if we gave it our all, we’d have a chance to get to nationals and compete for medal. We have so many good girls. A lot of them are seniors, so they want to go out with a bang.”
It is rare for a team from the East to win the Women’s 8, which is considered the marquee event of the regatta. Greer feels the Saugatuck crew will open some eyes this weekend.
“Other teams see Saugatuck in the eight and they think we can be written off as scrubby little boat that will come in sixth,’’ she said. “Our goal is to prove them wrong. We want to show our stuff. We’re going to give it our all. This is the time to make all of our hours of training pay off. We have been given the best preparation possible and this is our one opportunity. With this group we have a fighting chance and that is all we can ask for. Now we just have to go out and preform as a team. And if we succeed, well, it doesn’t get much better than that.”
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